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Child of God: New York Film Festival 2013

Apparently determined to work his way through the canon of great Southern writers (his adaptation of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying is...

Apparently determined to work his way through the canon of great Southern writers (his adaptation of William Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying is coming soon to a theater near you), Renaissance man and restless metastar James Franco takes on Cormac McCarthy’s backwoods-gothic novel about a mentally challenged serial killer roaming the Tennessee countryside. To his credit, Franco doesn’t soft-peddle the book’s squeamish aspects—murder, insanity and necrophilia, oh my!—though the film’s po-faced attempts to match McCarthy’s poetic, macabre prose don’t add much to this tale of rural misanthropy, either. Nor does Scott Haze’s all-or-nothing performance as antihero Lester Ballard, which doubles down on the repugnancy and ultimately devolves into a lot of upward glowering reminiscent of every third Kubrick character. It could have been so much worse; you wish it was a lot better. Click for showtimes.—David Fear

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